Ruta del Sol: Alejandro Valverde extends overall lead by climbing to victory on stage one
Alejandro Valverde extended his overall lead of the Ruta del Sol by climbing to victory on stage one.
Last Updated: 20/02/14 7:44pm
The 33-year-old Movistar rider, who held a seven-second advantage at the top of the general classification after winning Wednesday's prologue, pulled away from a severely thinned-down peloton in the last 300m of the 3.5km climb to the finish and crossed the line four seconds ahead of runner-up Bauke Mollema (Belkin) and third-placed Davide Rebellin (CC Polsat Polkowice).
Valverde now leads overall by 19 seconds from second-place Richie Porte (Team Sky), who finished the day fourth. Luis Leon Sanchez (Caja Rural) rises to third place, 21 seconds back, after crossing the line fifth.
Sir Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), who is riding in support of Porte this week, pulled off from the head of the race just before the final climb and eventually finished 3min 51sec down in 56th. That leaves him 54th overall, 4min 5sec back.
After Wiggins's departure, team-mates Vasil Kiryienka, Peter Kennaugh and Geraint Thomas took up the pace-setting on the front of the peloton and combined to whittle the front group down to just eight elite riders with 1.5km of the climb remaining.
Porte, who had been sheltering behind his team-mates, tried to attack around 500m from home, but Valverde had energy in reserve and rounded the Australian, before pulling away for a solo victory.
Valverde is bidding for a third consecutive overall triumph at the race. Friday's 197.1km second stage ends with a summit finish on Santuario Virgen de la Sierra de Cabra in Andalucia.
Stage one result
1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, 5:08:57
2 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin, +4secs
3 Davide Rebellin (Ita) CCC Polsat Polkowice, same time
4 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky, st
5 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, st
6 Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, +11
7 Daniel Navarro (Spa) Cofidis, +12
8 Ruben Plaza (Spa) Movistar, +15
9 Thomas Degand (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert, +16
10 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana, +17
56 Sir Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky, +3:51
1 1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, 5:17:19
2 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky, +19
3 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros SGA, +21
4 Jon Izagirre (Spa) Movistar, +24
5 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek Factory Racing, +37
6 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana, +38
7 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin, +39
8 Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, +40
9 Davide Rebellin (Ita) CCC Polsat Polkowice, +43
10 Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky, +44
54 Sir Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky, +4:05